Thursday, 9 June 2011

Family week - a roaring success in Leeds

Picture caption: "Amber, Saharsh and Tia proudly showing their creations made at Tiger Day at Leeds City Museum with Cllr Jane Dowson and Rory the Tiger."

Families from across the city have been making the most of the fun activities on offer to celebrate National Family Week.

Libraries, galleries, sports centres and museums all over Leeds have organised special family-focused events throughout this half term to encourage more families to spend time together.

The events and activities organised by Leeds City Council, encourage parents and children to have fun together whilst learning, enjoying sport or just having fun.

One popular activity which attracted numerous children, parents and carers was ‘Tiger day’ at Leeds City Museum on Wednesday 1 June. The children got crafty making masks and badges, they listened to stories and learnt about natural history from the museum exhibits.

Councillor Jane Dowson, deputy executive board member responsible for children’s services popped into Tiger Day to see the children and parents enjoying the activities on offer, she said:
“It is brilliant that so many families have taken the opportunity to make the most of all the events on offer around the city this half term. Family Week has been a great celebration of what it means to be a family – a chance learn together and have fun together.

“Events like Tiger Day are great for parents and children to spend some fun quality time together away from home. All the children were having a great time at the wonderful City Museum, being creative and learning with their parents.”

Throughout this half term (Sunday 30 May to Sunday 5 June) there have been hundreds of events taking place across the city to mark National Family Week - the biggest annual celebration of families and family life in the UK.

Thousands of families have been joining in the fun at events including country park walks and barn dances to family story time sessions at local libraries. Amongst the events taking place were a drive-in movie screening, a sponsored walk and picnic, and an environmental volunteering celebration.

The week ended with a Family Boot Camp at Morley leisure centre, large inflatable football and fun activity games at Kirkstall Leisure centre and a Manga Workshop at Leeds Central Library, amongst many others.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Blooming lovely nurseries get their rewards

Picture caption "Alfie Westman helps Cllr Judith Blake unviel the plaque at the Meadows preschool in Guiseley for their award winning garden."

Chelsea flower show might be over, but two nurseries in Leeds are getting their own ‘gold award’ for their horticultural creations.

The Meadows preschool in Guiseley and Bright Beginnings childcare centre at Leeds University were joint winners in a competition held by Leeds City Council’s children’s services. The awards were to recognise the commitment and enthusiasm shown by early years providers who had received funding to create innovative outdoor spaces for the children in their care.

The Meadows received an award for its ‘wonderful and impressive’ outdoor play area yesterday, and Bright Beginnings will receive an award for their garden which encourages the ‘children’s creativity’ next Wednesday (15 June). Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for children’s services will present both nurseries with a hand carved wooden plaque which have been donated by local manufacturer - Outdoor Classrooms.

200 private, voluntary, maintained and independent early years providers across Leeds who received ‘Quality and Access’ funding from the Department for Schools and Families / Department for Education between 2008 and 2011, to improve their outdoor areas, were invited to nominate their garden for an award. Childminders who received the funding were also welcome to submit their gardens to the competition.

The Meadows and Bright Beginnings were picked as the joint winners from 21 early years providers who submitted their gardens. The judging panel, which was made up of early years professionals from Leeds City Council, the PreSchool Learning Alliance and 4Children decided that both nurseries deserved the award.

Providers who applied for the ‘Quality and Access’ funding were required to use the money to improve play and physical activities for the young children in their care.

The judging panel said that the Meadows had created a ‘wonderful and impressive play area …from a basic tarmac and grass rectangle’. The design was described as ‘imaginative’ and the equipment had created wonderful play spaces with expressive arts opportunities, a story telling area and an outdoor classroom. The panel were also impressed that the new outdoor area and equipment had been made accessible for children with disabilities.

Of the play area at Bright Beginnings, the judges said it was a very good design and use of space and the wide range of materials used in the design enhanced the natural and traditional resources. They were also impressed that the garden provided lots of opportunity for learning and risk taking. The panel noted that the staff clearly demonstrated an enthusiasm for their new outdoor area the children were engaged and enjoyed playing in the garden.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services who presented The Meadows with their plaque said:
“A really good quality play area can make such a difference to the enjoyment and fulfilment of a child’s time at nursery. Not only does it contribute to their learning and development it also helps enhance their life-skills.

“It was great to see the enthusiasm and enjoyment both the staff and the children at the Meadows have for their new garden. The children were especially excited about growing their own vegetables. I am really looking forward to seeing the new gardens at Bright Beginnings next week, no doubt they will be just as spectacular.

“The gardens and outdoor play areas these early years providers have designed have really shown that the children are at the heart of everything they do.”

Childminders Michelle Crowther and Angela Foley were highly commended for the gardens they created with the quality and access funding they applied for.

Other early years providers who were commended for their outdoor spaces were:
Thorner Preschool
Gateways School
Leeds Montessori
Tots and Tykes Nursery
Bronte House and
Ladybirds Day Nursery
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Day with the bin men gives councillor an insight into the service

Councillor Mark Dobson empties a bin in Kippax as part of his efforts to get to grips with the service.

Spending a day with the city’s refuse collectors has given the councillor responsible for the service a real insight into how it works and the challenges it faces.

Councillor Mark Dobson, who took over responsibility for the service less than a month ago, spent Wednesday with a crew emptying bins in Kippax as part of his commitment to fully understand his department from top to bottom.

Starting at 7am, Councillor Dobson met the crew at Leeds City Council’s Knowsthorpe Gate depot and spent the day emptying bins with the rest of his three man crew.

As well as emptying bins, Councillor Dobson also spoke to Kippax residents about their experience of the service.

Speaking after completing his round, Councillor Mark Dobson, executive board member for environmental services, said:
“This was an invaluable opportunity for me. I have seen first hand how hard our bin men work and experienced some of the frustrations they and residents face. We are committed to improving the service and have come a long way in a short space of time.

“Bins should be emptied regularly on the day they are supposed to and we are working hard to ensure this happens. Around half a million bins are emptied every week across Leeds and I do not want any household to be missed out. If a property is missed, residents can tell us through their local councillor, our website or our contact centre and we will work to get their bin emptied as soon as possible. Ensuring that bins are out on time, in the correct place and on the right day also helps us to provide the best service we can.

“The day was a success and a real insight in to the department and I look forward to overseeing the continued progress of the service.”

To report any missed collections residents can contact their local councillor (details at or call the council’s contact centre on 0113 2224406.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577